ISD France

ISD coordinates a multi-sectoral response to hate, extremism and disinformation in France, informed by cutting-edge digital research.

ISD’s work in France extends back to the Club of Three, a policy-led dialogue between high level politicians, academics, and activists to address issues regarding social cohesion and security cooperation, including antisemitism. These dialogues featured then-French Interior Minister (and later President) Nicolas Sarkozy in 2006.

Today, ISD has expanded its work to facilitate a whole of society response to the challenges facing France, including the threats of hate, extremism and disinformation. ISD’s French operations have assembled a team of France-based and French-speaking experts in order to build a clear understanding of the issues and implement relevant responses.

ISD applies its suite of digital research methods to map hate online, analyse information manipulation, track disinformation and better understand extremist narratives. Our research also aims to better understand what initiatives are most effective in countering these phenomena, and equip practitioners with step-by-step guides and creative tools to best challenge these issues. Leveraging the insights from this research, ISD seeks to inform and coordinate a civic response to build more cohesive and resilient societies.

Civil society responses
This includes work through the Online Civil Courage Initiative (OCCI), launched in 2018, or the Google Impact Challenge for Safety, launched in 2019, each of which supported hundreds of French civil society actors dedicated to countering hate and extremism online. ISD also develops education responses localised to the French context, whose aim is to provide youth and their educators with the tools they need to effectively navigate online risks like echo cambers, algorithmic bias and disinformation.

Assessments of these programmes are made transparently, such as with Fostering Civic Responses to Online Harms: Learnings from the Online Civil Courage Initiative and the Online Civic Fund/Promouvoir le civisme en ligne face aux malveillances à l’ère du numérique, a 2020 overview of the French OCCI programme. Similarly, toolkits in French for civil society practitioners and policymakers are available, such as Responding to a Terror Attack: A Strong Cities Toolkit/Répondre à une attaque terroriste: un guide Strong Cities from ISD’s Strong Cities Network. Other resources for practitioners include an online French campaign toolkit and the Digital Citizenship Education/Education à la Citoyenneté Numérique toolkits.

Helping develop better policies
On the basis of our research and work with practitioners, ISD also conducts advocacy work to help produce more coherent and effective policy responses to this wide range of online harms. This includes advising government actors like the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA), the DILCRAH (Délégation interministérielle à la lutte contre le racisme, l’antisémitisme et la haine anti-LGBT) and the CIPDR (Comité interministériel de prévention de la délinquance et de la radicalisation). It also includes French cities within ISD’s Strong Cities Network, participating in policy auditions and working groups like the Commission on Online Hate and the Online Hate Observatory, as well as engaging key technology firms like Facebook, Google, Twitter or Tik Tok.

Further analysis of digital policy in France can be found in jointly produced reports with the Institut de Relations Internationales et Stratégiques (IRIS), Dossier #6 : Le Virus du Faux, and Dalloz.

Cutting edge research
In 2019, ISD published Mapping Hate in France/Cartographie de la Haine en Ligne Tour d’horizon du discours haineux en France, a comprehensive overview of online hate. Using social media data analytic tools that combine machine learning and natural language processing with qualitative analysis, the report provided a detailed analysis of the dynamics of the most prevalent types of hateful speech across social media platforms in France.

Complementing this report was Building Digital Citizenship in France: Lessons from the Sens Critique project, which aimed to raise awareness among pupils on the dangers of fake news and hate speech, piloted with 22 pupils from three schools in the Paris region. The programme included awareness-raising exercises concerning disinformation and emotional manipulation and evaluated with pre- and post surveys with the students and their parents.

This was followed by more recent work adapting ISD’s Young Digital Leaders (YDL) curriculum and parent guide to a French context and designing additional resources and campaigns against disinformation in France with partners such as What the Fake.

Finally, ISD has leveraged its expertise during the COVID-19 era, with three publications looking at anti-vaccine (COVID-19 : aperçu de la défiance anti-vaccinale sur les réseaux sociaux) and COVID-19 (Seconde vague et désinformation : Aperçu des tendances sur les réseaux sociaux) disinformation, as well as the related rise in online hate due to the pandemic (La pandémie de COVID-19: terreau fertile de la haine en ligne). A jointly produced publication and webinar with Institut Montaigne, Information Manipulations Around Covid-19: France Under Attack, also looked at the circulation of different narratives and pieces of disinformation in French discussion groups during the COVID-19 pandemic.

OCCI France launch

Launch of the Online Civil Courage Initiative
Paris, France, 2017

  • Internet : le mensonge a-t-il gagné la partie ?

    Podcast interview with ISD’s Iris Boyer on COVID-19 misinformation in France for France Inter

    Listen at Le Débat de Midi

  • Après Christchurch, une réponse ambitieuse à l’extrémisme en ligne est plus que jamais nécessaire

    Op-ed by Iris Boyer and Cécile Guérin on the role of platforms and policymakers after the Christchurch attacks.

    Read it at Le Monde

  • Face à la haine en ligne, la modération ne suffit plus

    Op-ed by Cécile Guerin on policies against disinformation in France.

    Read it at Liberation

  • En France, les hérauts du complot attendent leur heure

    Coverage of ISD’s digital research on QAnon and conspiracy theories in France.

    Read it at Liberation

ISD’s French team

Cooper Gatewood
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Cooper Gatewood

Senior Digital Research Manager

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Cooper Gatewood
Cooper Gatewood

Senior Digital Research Manager

Cooper Gatewood is a Senior Digital Research Manager within ISD’s Digital Research Unit, focusing on quantitative research into the spread of hateful and polarising narratives online, and how they are leveraged by extremist actors. Cooper is currently contributing to ISD’s research on disinformation campaigns, particularly those aimed to influence and disrupt election processes. He also manages on the Online Civil Courage Initiative in France, coordinating activities to support civil society’s response to hate and extremism online. In addition, Cooper conducts ongoing evaluation of a number of ISD’s programmes, including Be Internet Citizens and Young Digital Leaders. Cooper also develops monitoring and evaluation frameworks for a number of ISD’s education projects. Previously, Cooper worked at Portland, where he advised clients from the non-profit and government sectors on their media engagement and social media strategies. He is the co-author of ISD reports The Boom Before the Ban: QAnon and Facebook, La pandémie de COVID-19: terreau fertile de la haine en ligne, Fostering Civic Responses to Online Harms, Promouvoir le civisme en ligne face aux malveillances à l’ère du numérique, Disinformation briefing: Narratives around Black Lives Matter and voter fraud, Mapping hate in France: A panoramic view of online discourse, and Building Digital Citizenship in France: Lessons from the Sens Critique project. Cooper holds a Masters of International Affairs from Columbia University and a Masters of International Security from Sciences Po and is fluent in Spanish and French, as well as speaking proficient Japanese.
Cécile Guerin
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Cécile Guerin

Research Manager

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Cécile Guerin
Cécile Guerin

Research Manager

Cécile Guerin is a Research Manager at ISD, working within the digital research and policy team. She has co-authored reports on far-right terrorism and extremism, hate speech, gender-based violence and disinformation campaigns targeting elections. She works with tech companies, government departments and inter-governmental organisations. Cécile features regularly in international media, including BBC News, The Guardian, Politico, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Le Monde, and Wired. She is the co-author of ISD reports La pandémie de COVID-19: terreau fertile de la haine en ligne, Seconde vague et désinformation: Aperçu des tendances sur les réseaux sociaux, The Interplay Between Australia’s Political Fringes on the Right and Left: Online Messaging on Facebook, Public Figures, Public Rage: Candidate abuse on social media, An Online Environmental Scan of Right-wing Extremism in Canada, Mapping hate in France: A panoramic view of online discourse and Fostering Civic Responses to Online Harms: Learnings from the Online Civil Courage Initiative and the Online Civic Fund.
Zoé Fourel
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Zoé Fourel

Research Associate

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Zoé Fourel
Zoé Fourel

Research Associate

Zoé Fourel is a Research Associate at ISD and part of the Digital Analysis Unit. Zoé predominantly works on social media analysis and network mapping related to disinformation, hate speech and extremism. She has also contributed to ISD’s election work including for the US 2020 elections or Ivory Coast elections. Zoé focuses particularly on ISD’s French activities including research on the French online ecosystem as well as stakeholder engagement in France. She is co-author of the ISD reports La pandémie de COVID-19: terreau fertile de la haine en ligne, Fostering Civic Responses to Online Harms: Learnings from the Online Civil Courage Initiative and the Online Civic Fund, Seconde vague et désinformation: Aperçu des tendances sur les réseaux sociaux, and Mapping hate in France: A panoramic view of online discourse. Zoé holds a Master in International Affairs from Sciences Po Lyon, which includes studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, in London and Georgetown University, in Washington DC.
Iris Boyer
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Iris Boyer

Advisor to ISD France

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Iris Boyer
Iris Boyer

Advisor to ISD France

Iris Boyer is an Advisor to ISD France. She was previously Deputy Head of the Communications, Education and Networks team at ISD, overseeing a number of programmes supporting and amplifying civil society’s efforts against extremism through scaled partnerships with tech companies and grassroots organisations. Previously, Iris worked at YouTube on the development and coordination of the global campaign Creators for Change, after having managed counter speech and social good programmes at Facebook for their EMEA policy team. Prior to that, she spent some time working for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a junior policy analyst in Russia and Eastern Europe, as well as for the French Ministry of Finance, as an economic attaché covering the South Caucasus region. She is the co-author of ISD reports Information Manipulations Around COVID-19: France Under Attack, Building Digital Citizenship in France: Lessons from the Sens Critique project, Mapping hate in France: A panoramic view of online discourse, Building Digital Citizenship in France: Lessons from the Sens Critique project, and the Young Digital Leaders Impact Report. Iris holds a French 5-year diploma in social sciences and humanities from Sciences Po, as well as an international Master in Public Affairs from the Higher School of Economics in Moscow and the London Metropolitan University.